Andrew Trimble blasts Ireland's defeat in France as 'criminal'
Straight-talking Andrew Trimble described Ireland's attacking play as 'criminal' in their 10-9 Six Nations defeat to France on Saturday that left coach Joe Schmidt admitting his side's two-year reign as champions is as good as over.
Unconvincing Ireland were limited to just a trio of penalties in the Stade de France and, despite leading 9-3 at the break, failed to score in the second period as France came back to win thanks to a converted Maxime Medard try 10 minutes from time.
With Ireland's chances of a third straight title now all but gone, Trimble was left fuming at missed opportunities to score.
"It's criminal getting down there but then not taking your chances," rapped the Ulster winger. "To be fair, it was greasy, it was tough out there, but we should be a side that backs ourselves whenever we get opportunities and we didn't.
"A lot of that damage was done in the first-half and then that put us under pressure in the second."
Trimble's Ulster and Ireland team-mate Rory Best was equally damning, the captain saying Ireland had blown a "massive opportunity" to maintain an undefeated run against France that stretched back to 2011.
"It was a massive opportunity that we'll be very disappointed we weren't able to take," said Best. "We know we had chances. When we look back at it later in the week we'll be really disappointed we couldn't have put more points on the board.
"We'll look in the second-half on how we allowed our boys to get isolated at times."
Ireland were unhappy not to see France handed at least one yellow card in the first-half for questionable hits, although were perhaps fortunate themselves not to see a prop binned late on, with Best feeling he was running a "fine line" when pleading his case to the referee.
"I think at one stage I asked the question how many attacking penalties are we going to get here without further sanction. He said he was keeping a close eye on it," Best revealed regarding his discussions with ref Jaco Peyper.
"There's a fine line between badgering the referee and keeping pressure on him. The one on Sexton, he said the TMO was happy it was just a penalty.
"The one on Dave Kearney, you want to keep the pressure on, but ultimately they are making the decisions."
Ireland felt they had further reason to question Peyper after his handling of the scrum following the second-half arrival of Eddy Ben Arous and Rabah Slimani when the visitors led 9-3.
Best admitted the dynamics in the set-piece changed markedly in the second-half.
"I think we scrummed well in the first-half," said Best. "The disappointing thing was it started to get messy in the second.
"It got angled. That's disappointing. We knew that would happen when they came on but we wanted to keep the pressure.
"When Tadhg Furlong came on, he was trying to get through the hole. It's difficult when you've a quality player like Ben Arous pushing him on the angle like that."